682 MICHIGAN QUARTERLY REVIEW
JF: Yes, near La Chapelle d'Angillon, in the Sologne. That's a
lovely case: you can go to see that chateau, and it's most disappointing.
JRB: And is this same image present in Hardy's novels and poems
where he remembers the effacing of rural life, landscapes he knew?
JF: Yes, very clearly. I'm sure that Bockhampton remained for all
Hardy's life something very peculiar, which I don't think he could
ever write about, except metaphorically.
JRB: And in all these cases we have a mythical, archetypal symbol
standing for a retreat from reality, or is there something more positive in all this?
JF: It's a retreat, but I think it is very much a necessary one for the
artistic creation. Hardy lived at Max Gate in his last years: I'm sure
that also was a kind of retreat for him, horrible brick villa though it
is to look at now. But all artists need this, in some way, in order to be
able to write. In a way, it is anti-social; it's not normal society's
notion of the good life at all.
JRB: For me, one of the intriguing aspects of Daniel Martin is your
portrait of America and the Americans. One thing you conclude is
that we are foolishly naive in believing all too literally in our revolutionary declaration which states, without qualification, "All men
are created equal."
JF: What can I say? I've so often-said that I think the great fault in
the French revolutionary triad is that freedom and equality are both
contained in it. This is like saying oil and water are there-they
never, never mix. Modern New York is an example: you walk down
Fifth Avenue with all its luxury shops, you walk a couple of hundred
yards into Central Park, and there are all the winos and tramps,
people obviously in extreme poverty, sleeping on the benches. And
the rats! They've got a plague of rats there at the moment, which I
enjoyed as a natural historian, but that strange juxaposition of
extreme wealth and extreme poverty... it's not only New York, of
course. Any Western capital.
JRB: But I think you're right that most Americans do naively
believe it is literally true that all men are created equal and that the
inequalities you observe in the streets are caused by political or
economic defects in the system, all lying beyond the single individual and his powers.
JF: It's also due to a very naive view of personal responsibility, isn't
it, that if you're a wino sleeping on a Central Park bench, you must
be morally wrong, you're a shirker, you haven't really tried, etc.